Italy Establishes New National Academy

The Italian Cricket Federation (FCrI) this week announced plans to hold its first Academy in April 2007. Set to take place 180km North of Rome, at Grossetto Cricket Club, the Academy will play host to 16 athletes aged between 15 and 19, selected from the six teams in the Italian Cricket League Division 1. The main aim of the venture is to bridge the gap between the activity in schools and senior club cricket, with an ultimate goal of developing a core of young cricketers capable of winning U17 and U19 tournaments and that will feed into the senior Italian side. Academy Director, James Cheyne, who grew up playing cricket in England, makes the observation that Cricket in Italy lacks tradition and spirit, and many youngsters are drawn away from the game in their teens. “Youngsters do not grow up with cricket and miss out on the opportunity to pick up the tricks of the game and do not encompass its unique spirit.” “The Italian Cricket federation held a 3 day U13 championship in which around 120 boys and girls participated. Five years on, only a few of those boys continued to play the game. This level of dropout is not good and we must do something to sustain the development of cricket amongst the youth” With this in mind, Cheyne says that the main focus is on improving the technical capabilities of the athletes whilst instilling the love for the game. For the important role of Head Coach, the FCrI have employed Joe Scuderi, the Italian National Coach, who is of both Australian and Italian origin, and is based in the UK. He will work alongside a team of highly qualified coaches, providing a ratio of at least one coach to every four players. The five day schedule is an intensive one, each day starting with breakfast at 7.30am and ending at 10.30pm, after a review and video analysis. Day one focuses on assessing player skill and fitness levels. Days two and three comprise group and individual coaching sessions and build up to 50 over match on Day four. The fifth and final day sees further fitness assessment and individual evaluation. Each player will take away with him a personalised training program to follow in the year a head. The athletes will then undergo two annual check points where they must reach minimum requirements in a series of fitness tests. Failure to adhere to the regime and obtain such targets will result in expulsion from the Academy. To get the Academy underway in this its inaugural year, the FCrI are covering the bulk of the costs, injecting €10,900 of the €15,000 needed to fund the project. Each participant is also contributing a small amount and the remainder is coming from the ICC European Annual Support Program. In the future, FCrI hopes to secure additional funding from external sponsorship sources, which will be necessary if the Academy is to achieve its long term goals. Even before the first Academy has got underway, plans are being made to source its own ground and facilities, open it up to girls, and form an Academy team to play International fixtures. Susan Lowrey ICC Regional Project Officer - Europe